Madrid municipalities close pools, restrict access to parks in bid to halt coronavirus spread

The capital city will see the public prohibited from entering green spaces between 10pm and 8am, while various authorities in the region will crack down on street drinking

The Puente de Vallecas neighborhood as seen from the Cerro del Tio Pío park, in Madrid.
The Puente de Vallecas neighborhood as seen from the Cerro del Tio Pío park, in Madrid.Uly Martín

From today, September 1, Madrid will be closing its public swimming pools completely, and its more than 3,000 parks and gardens between the hours of 10pm and 8am in a bid to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus from taking hold in the Spanish capital.

According to Madrid City Hall, the municipal police force will once again use measures such as drones to inform the public of the closures, in a bid to avoid crowds forming and young people holding outdoor drinking sessions known in Spanish as botellones.

The council has admitted that the measures will not be effective if “Madrileños do not show exemplary behavior”

The number of reports filed by the local police in Madrid against people for consuming alcohol in the street rose 57% in July compared to the same month in 2019, with a total of 5,267 complaints.

“We all know that there are [crowds] and that these cause infections,” said the deputy mayor, Begoña Villacís, this week. She explained that she would prefer not to have to close the parks and gardens in the Spanish capital, but that City Hall was doing so out of “responsibility.”

However, the council has admitted that the measures will not be effective if “Madrileños do not show exemplary behavior,” given that the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has stated that it is “practically impossible” to control large open spaces such as the Madrid Río park, which stretches for more than 10 kilometers along the capital city’s Manzanares River.

In the case of the swimming pools, which in previous years have remained open during September, the mayor said that these had been examples of “good management,” and that there have been no outbreaks related to them, but that “we have to get ahead of the virus.”

Suspension of cultural programming

Madrid is not the only city in the region that has taken similar measures to avoid crowds in these public spaces. One of the first councils to close such areas was that of the satellite city of Fuenlabrada, which on Monday announced that it was suspending all cultural programming, closing facilities for children, and increasing police monitoring of public spaces.

San Fernando de Henares has done the same with children’s areas, and has also closed off areas where botellones usually take place. A similar approach has been taken in Leganés, which has undertaken a disinfection operation in “critical areas of the city,” such as the entrances to healthcare centers, pharmacies and garbage disposal areas.

In the case of Alcorcón, the council has opted to temporarily banish vehicles from certain streets in a bid to help citizens maintain a safe distance from one another. San Sebastián de los Reyes has also approved a raft of measures against the virus, including the closure of parks, while in Arganda del Rey they are also bringing forward the closure of swimming pools and restricting access to green spaces between 10pm and 8am.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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